Thursday, June 30, 2011

Joyce Lautens O'Brien: "September 27, 2001"

Everything will be all right I tell myself
At first I couldn’t sleep it hurt couldn’t

everything was changed nothing
the same ever again men weeping
on television in full public view too
awful for words lives buildings peace
everything normal gone forever ground
to gritty dust and ash but sixteen days after
flags flying a resurgence of hope I laugh
with friends take Giuliani’s advice and
spend I buy a watch I had my eye on

a luxury item gold plated with Roman numerals
to mark the hours I check my portfolio down
but not too much not too much to bear
and the economy improving by the second
by the second quarter no doubt back up
to speed people flying through the air just
like they used to no cares in the world
everything the way it was what lies
we tell ourselves
what lies ahead

(this piece first appeared in Connecticut River Review)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Howie Good: "Mal de Mer"

What’s the weather there? he asked. Some people prefer the sea. The taxi had dropped me off and then climbed the sharp hill that led to all the years ahead. The man put a finger to his lips. We had worked out a scheme – a woman like the girly pink rose machine-embroidered on the back of her backpack.

He invoked the rule of thirds, but couldn’t explain it. All I knew was that it had something to do with pictures. I had gotten a price from him. Bullets were extra.

I met a woman you never met. She talked about the jellyfish incident and removing fragments from her flesh. She said what she most missed was the strangeness of every day. All of France mourned her.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Brad Liening: "Desperado"

I rode my horse over the hill,
there was a sound like
invisible language alighting in trees,
like a thousand bees
with a thousand microphones,
I knew I had a job to do,
I was needed in an important way
though I myself was unimportant
like a snowman falling
into an icy crevasse,
a cemetery full of
mostly forgotten, grassy graves,
that was all I knew but
just then the sun looked beautiful
like a beautiful woman
stepping out of a limousine
into a field of scorpions,
my horse was frightened
and in the deepening dusk
I whispered wild promises to us both.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Eliezra Schaffzin: "All the Comforts of Home"

Annie counted the napkins, rolling them up and stacking them like scrolls. She counted the napkin rings. She counted the forks, knives, and spoons. She counted the chairs and she counted the table, though it was quite clear there was only one. She counted it again, shaking her finger at it each time: one, one, one. She counted every piece in the china set, and counted the wine and water glasses after that. She plucked a reluctant crab off the soup tureen and counted it with the ladle and the salad bowl and the tongs. The waves ushered in a gust of sun-warmed wind. The sand shifted. By the time she was ready to count the finger bowls, they were gone. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Brian Beatty: "Wigs and Hymnals"

Whatever river takes you,
it’s going to make you, too.
Locals soaked to the bone
swear that’s the only baptism
the seriously righteous need.
Who am I to disbelieve them?
Small, smooth pebbles fall out
of their teeth as they pry, pray
and preach themselves hoarse.
And I’m not here for trouble.
That doesn’t matter, of course. 
To mollify shouting onlookers
with convictions much deeper
and mightier, I’m quite certain,
than any I'm ever likely to hold
(doubters from the next ghost 
town over have surrounded me) 
my faithful hosts begin running 
around lighting each other’s hair 
on fire — using book pages
lit with wet matches.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Meanwhile we do no harm; for they
   That with a god have striven,
Not hearing much of what we say,
   Take what the god has given;
Though like waves breaking it may be,
Or like a changed familiar tree,
Or like a stairway to the sea
   Where down the blind are driven.”

- Edwin Arlington Robinson,  from Eros Turannos

[According to some sources, there are 558 days, 18 hours and some minutes remaining.]

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Doug Draime: "Now That You Are Gone"

                  for Beth

The fact that we can receive
and transmit
music and voices through the air
amazes me. Everything amazes me! 
That life goes on amazes me. Your body
is under the
earth now. Molecules still expand
and contract. People are still at
war: the couple up front are still
trying to
kill each other. Children born innocent
still have a chance, if they don’t
accept it all. You are gone. Wall
Street goes on. Flowers grow. 
They still pick up the garbage. Evil
people who should have died
long ago still suck blood. 
It all amazes me! My love
for you and your love
for me always amazed me. 
And I pray your spirit
finds rest from
the world that killed
What I want to know is where can I offer
myself up? What mountain do I climb? 

(This piece appeared earlier in Northwest Magazine)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Chris Moran: "Eyes of Iblis"

Spires of the sun pulsate and ache throughout the continuity of the void,
Through collapsed, weaning light. A limbic light whose fulminating aura is felt
Though never touched. I can never feel empathy for anything except for a failing thing.
Crossroads dim in this contingent vacuity. A devil touched me. Birthed me, brandished me.
Though my target eyes smile breath varnished. A tragic nudity, a stillborn. Palatial saturation.
Channels of decay. A fuming tension puts a barrier between my life-stream and other currents
Which flow parallel. The flow of days onward is a collapsible echo. Morph into an annihilated
Dream. The burning sensation of moon rain flitting the planet. To master our capacities
Fuller and fuller on command. To put my dream on this planet. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cecilia Chapman: "Let Me Sleep In Your Crystal Kitchen"

Music by Jeff Crouch, cell images by Steve Johnson; from Danger Archive, part of the Surreal Suspicion series currently in production.